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Broncos wide out KJ Hamler, one of the team’s biggest big-play threats, will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn left ACL in Sunday’s win over the New York Jets.
Hamler suffered the injury as he landed after making a leaping attempt to snare a Teddy Bridgewater pass with 3:38 seconds left in the second quarter.
On Monday, Broncos coach Vic Fangio said that Hamler had suffered the torn ACL as well as other damage to the knee.
“KJ’s a hard guy to cover,” said Fangio.
“The key third down [in the first quarter against the Jets], we made the conversion; they were in man coverage. The guy was nowhere near him. … He’s hard to cover. We’ll miss him.”
Hamler averaged 14.8 yards per catch over the first three weeks of the regular season — the best among any of the team’s players with more than one reception — and is now Denver’s second wide receiver to have suffered a major injury already this season.
Jerry Jeudy suffered a right ankle injury in the season opener and is currently on injured reserve. Over their first three games the Broncos have already lost four starters to significant injuries, including Jeudy, linebacker Josey Jewell (pectoral), linebacker Bradley Chubb (left ankle) and cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring).
Jewell is expected to miss the remainder of the season, while the Broncos hope Darby will return in the coming weeks with Jeudy and Chubb to return later this season.
The Broncos are also evaluating injuries to both their starting guards: Dalton Risner (foot) and Graham Glasgow (left knee).
Those two players both left Sunday’s game to get some exercise and see if he can try to make it back.
Fangio said Monday they were still being evaluated to determine how much time each would miss, but he does expect both to be able to return to the lineup.
“We don’t like to see anybody get hurt, just on a personnel basis, before you even start thinking about the football part of it,” Fangio said. “But, yeah, it’s getting tested too early, but we are a deeper team than we’ve been in the past and think we can absorb it.”
Without Hamler in the lineup, Diontae Spencer and Kendall Hinton will get more work — especially as slot receivers in the team’s three-wide receiver look.
The Broncos have four wide receivers on the practice squad. Fangio said the team would also consider wide receivers who are currently unsigned.
“It hurts because he was, out of all of us, he was different in that he gives us speed,” said wide receiver Tim Patrick.
“There’s definitely no replacing KJ … but you [try] replacing him by making plays. … It might not be in the way that he would do it, but there is other ways of making big plays.”